Second Chance – Clear the Air

There’s a saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” I am amazed how many times this shows up for me. “Bad” first impressions cause me to respond differently depending on the situation. In the case of the missed diagnosis I received at a local health center (see July 3rd post, Listen Up People), I did NOT go back to the same health care provider, but saw someone else and then wrote a letter to the supervising powers that be. The provider was informed of their mistake and my insurance company and I received refunds for the visit.

In the most recent incident of a “bad” first impression (Ground Rules, Sept 12) I hoped to clean it up, clear the air and go for a second chance, a “replacement” impression. Rather than wait for my next appointment, still weeks away, I decided to call the health care provider to see if she was willing to have a conversation about our communication snafu and “bad” first impression. Little did I know HOW BAD it was! Before we even met we had a rocky start with scheduling problems that her staff mishandled. She assumed that I blamed her because I complained heartily to the staff and made a clear demand for remedy. I can be such a bitch, that’s a good thing sometimes, it gets action!

Here is what we discovered in our conversation that I never would have realized had we not talked. When I met this newest member of my health care team (a woman with years of experience in this specialty) I began by acknowledging her for “making our appointment work” and she was completely offended and insulted! Oh my, what had I done? My husband tells me “you’re not like most people, Cate, she didn’t get it, she thought you were being sarcastic.” Wow, I was shocked and dismayed to realize that I had begun the downward spiral in communication with this vitally important member of my health care team and that I was oblivious to the fact and I had been blaming her! Well, truth be known, we are each responsible. Everything that I shared in my last post DID happen and it was unpleasant and unsettling.  Relationships are co-created. The important part was that I knew something was really OFF and there was no way I was going to let it slide and lose more energy fretting about it. I made an invitation to clear the air, she was willing, we have a fresh start, powerful co-creators of our relationship and partners in my health care! Very empowering.

Where do you need to walk away from a bad first impression? Where do you need to set a boundary or take action? Where do you need to consider giving that bad first impression a rest and giving yourself and the other person a second chance by clearing the air?

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2 Responses to Second Chance – Clear the Air

  1. Eve Rosenberg Blaustein says:

    Love your blogs, Cate. And yes, sometimes we don’t know how others experience us, but we have to go with our gut. Healthcare is still a service, and in my opinion, forgive me for projecting, I think it’s the staff’s responsibility to make the patient feel heard, comfortable and at ease, and to take the extra step to “not take it personally” if a patients gets a little testy!! For goodness sake, you may be uneasy or even scared about your treatments and their job…..even though they don’t teach it in most medical schools, is to have a nice bedside manner. I’m on your side here Cate….good impression or not!

  2. I love this follow up, particularly the part where you took responsibility for clearing the air. That’s such a courageous decision. And it totally inspires me to be alert for situations where I can do the same. Thank you so much for reminding me that the way I see a situation is truly ONLY one side of the story. The only way we ever get the other side is to ask and then be willing to LISTEN.

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